Digital Watches: A Beginner's Guide to the Time-Setting Menu and Beyond

2023-02-04 03:58:35 - Grace Browns Grace Browns has been a lifestyle, fashion, and beauty writer for over 5 years, and she currently serves as a senior editor at

Certain models of digital watches feature a plethora of buttons perfect for mindlessly pressing. This is entertaining, but it's hard to figure out if you don't know much about the technology behind it.

It's impossible for you to set the time because of this. To ensure that your interactions with digital watches go as smoothly as possible, we'll be going over the process of setting the time in great detail below.

Time Mode

Examining the watch's exterior is the first step in setting a digital watch. To access Time Mode, you'll need to locate a specific button.  

You'll find this control on the side of your device. A watch with few buttons is a rarity, but it's possible. It's possible to get them with 4, 3, 2, or even 5 of these

The necessary button is labeled "mode." It's required for setting the time, of course, but it also unlocks the calendar, alarm, and chronograph functions.


Let's talk about some problems that may arise during the search:

Lack of Push-Button Interface

girl holding a smart watch

The mode button, found on the right side of most digital watches, allows you to toggle between different display modes. While this is true of any electronic gadget, you might be perplexed if you don't notice anything of the sort on your watch.

There's probably no need to freak out, as this could just be a minor misunderstanding. Perhaps there was some confusion during production. As a result, the button (and possibly other buttons) may lack a label or have the wrong label.

Hopefully, you haven't ditched the manual just yet. The mode button on your watch may be explained in this guide, so grab it right away. It will be easier to find if you keep the description in mind while you look.

Actually, this sort of thing occurs quite frequently, unfortunately. You, as a buyer, should have given your watch a thorough examination before making your purchase. What else may have gone wrong during production is anyone's guess.

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The button may still be hidden from view. Stop freaking out A manufacturer may have accidentally put it in the wrong spot or forgotten to label it, but they certainly wouldn't have left it out.

The button to adjust your watch's settings may be obscured. This is not a bug, but rather an intentional design choice. If you purchased the product without doing adequate research, you might not have known this.

If that's the case, look on the device's rear. If you still can't see it after flipping it over, it may be hidden in a recess or behind a screen.

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man using a digital watch

That button is typically labeled "mode." For the most part, yes. For the remaining 10%, we use the terms set, setting, and time. From these, if you don't see mode, it's probably already set.

You might keep looking for "mode" and miss the fact that these other three terms all refer to the same thing.

Time Mode: What Is It?

After this first stage is finished, you will have finished the hardest part of the process. Now you must check the functionality of the mode button. If you don't, the steps below will be very annoying.  

If you press mode, the time settings will load, and the screen will begin flashing the current time. As a whole, it doesn't blink (although this may be the case for a handful of watches, which is extremely rare). As opposed to that, it's done individually. This would cause the hour, minute, or second hand to begin blinking.  

To sum up:

The first number to flash on the right is the one we recommend following, as part of our comprehensive guide. In this area, for example, you'll find the seconds.

Determine The Time Frame

As soon as you see the light flashing, you need to be prepared to take action. If your watch has a lot of buttons, one of them might be specifically for setting the time in time mode.  

If you have a simple watch like mine, you can set the time in Time Mode by pressing the start/stop button.

To get to the hour portion of the reading, you'll need to keep clicking "mode." Here, you'll use the same method you did with the clock to see the results: repeatedly pressing the start and stop buttons.  

Then, select the time you'd like the watch to display by using the scroll wheel.

man checking time on a digital watch

Save It

Adhering to the aforementioned guidelines will result in a properly adjusted watch. In spite of this, the fight continues.  

Finalizing your changes requires a save. Select the desired mode by pressing the mode button again.  

If you don't do this, you'll be unable to restore the default display and will be stuck in the time setting. If you just bought a fancy new watch and you don't know if it will work, that can be a bit of a scary thought.  

What About Different Contexts

Let's go over a few more options for your digital watch before we let you go (we're almost done, I swear). Now that you know how to use the mode button, the rest of this will be simple.  

Alarm Clock

To change the setting, select the Mode button. This time, continue until the Alarm screen appears. When you get there, it would usually display the letters "AL." The image of a clock may appear at other times.   

Alarm settings are accessed via the start/stop (or reset/set, depending on your watch) button. Click the mode button to save your changes and return to the main menu. An alarm has been set by you.  

Schedule Establishment

Time mode should work if your watch has a calendar function, which it probably does. This is accessed by pressing the mode button. To change the date while in time mode, you must repeatedly press the reset/set (or start/stop) buttons. When finished, select "mode" to permanently store your changes.

Extra Advice

We've gone over the steps necessary to successfully alter the time and other settings on your device, but there are a few more things you should know. There are a few common issues that I've observed watch owners encounter when trying to set the time.

white digital watch

Those Controls Hide in the Body

Your watch's buttons may be recessed if they were designed to withstand water. Because its interior is sealed off, it is less susceptible to water damage.

Your watch may have recessed buttons even if it isn't water resistant. And that's because the watch was made with the buyer in mind. The side buttons were likely concealed so they wouldn't constantly irritate the wearer's wrist.

You can switch it to time mode by poking it with a pen or another sharp object. It's easy to accidentally damage the watch's inner workings if you dig too deeply with a sharp object. If the watch is water-resistant, you may have just created a hole that will allow water to enter the watch the next time you go swimming.  

Unfortunately, None of the Buttons Work

There's a good chance the buttons on your old digital watch won't be very responsive. Unless you've been meticulous about storing it, it's probably dusty if it's been out for a while.  

Dust would have settled in its button grooves, reducing their responsiveness. If this is the case, pressing the button for a longer period of time and with more force than usual is required. That'll do the trick, I suppose.  

If the model you just bought was released in the 1990s, you may also find that its buttons aren't particularly responsive. This is not due to dust buildup, but rather to the nature of the device's internal technology. Pressing the button for a longer time and with more force than usual is the only workaround.


In sum, if you aren't familiar with how to do it, setting a digital watch can be a bother. Particularly if the controls are buried, hard to find, or mislabeled. In light of this, we examined the various means by which one may establish the time, thus preventing any potential issues in the future.

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